Viewing the Tribute Money, My Father Thinks of His Wife by Kyle McCord


After The Tribute Money, 1425

First notice how the loadstone nimbi
            weigh down it’s what Massacio wanted—

the clouds the denuded
            foothills pressed beneath the sky
                       it’s the bleak hour

of sundown when dinner is over
            the twenty-tongued waters pull
                       at the cedars

where are all the women
            why not a flush of kaolinite
                       a mother washing her boy’s fat belly

in resinous light but instead
            we are stuck under this unbearable
            oneness of sky and sea sea
                       and the fish which sparkles

and knows it will die
            choking oxygen which tastes of flame
                       which tastes porous but sweet

where are the nursing
            mothers the old mothers
we waste ourselves
            on anything less than women
                       the opinions of old stubborn men
                       even the miracle of frothy copper

fished from lips are like nothing
            next to her
every night I’d watch her

walk out of the Adriatic I would
stay on the deck
                       where shearwaters levied tribute
                       from the gargantuan trees

she would hum coring pears
giving song unto song rending
                       seed from stem rendering nothing
                       to man or God


Kyle McCord is the author of five books of poetry including National Poetry Series Finalist Magpies in the Valley of Oleanders. His work has been featured in AGNI, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly and elsewhere. Kyle has received grants from the Academy of American Poets, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Baltic Writing Residency. He serves as executive editor Gold Wake Press and lives in Des Moines, Iowa where he teaches at Drake University.